Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Black Lightning is prestige TV



Black Lightning premieres on The CW tonight. Whilst the prospect of another superhero show may seem daunting in an era of so-called peak television. This new series stands alone from DCTV's Arrow, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. That said, in the wake of the incredible crossover Crisis on Earth-X, I'm hoping Black Lightning will make a cameo in the future.

Early reactions to Black Lightning are positive and here's hoping it'll be shown on Sky1 in the UK soon.

The Washington Post

Black Lightning, a wholehearted and energetic live-action revival of the character premiering Tuesday night on CW, is refreshingly and intentionally focused on Jefferson's attempt to balance the conflict among his truest selves – as a black father in his late 40s, a husband, a revered high-school principal and, ultimately, a superhero who comes out of self-imposed exile to fight violence in his community.

The Hollywood Reporter

The pleasant surprise, then, is that Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn't take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it's ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.

The New York Times

Luke Cage and Marvel's Runaways have diversified the comics-TV lineup. (Black Panther arrives in theaters in February.) But this show's race-forward sensibility and its older protagonist, conflicted about getting back into the game, give Black Lightning its spark.

Looking forward to Black Lightning? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Rian Johnson wrote The Last Jedi on a MacBook Air



Director Rian Johnson wrote the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on an air-gapped Apple MacBook Air. Johnson revealed this fascinating insight in an interview with the WSJ.

“I typed Episode VIII out on a MacBook Air. For security it was “air-gapped” — never connected to the internet. I carried it around and used it for nothing except writing the script. I kept it in a safe at Pinewood Studios. I think my producer was constantly horrified I would leave it in a coffee shop.“

Ahead of the launch of The Last Jedi, Apple Stores ran exclusive video editing workshops to celebrate Force Friday II.

Friday, 12 January 2018

John Williams to score Star Wars: Episode IX



Hollywood composer John Williams, fresh from scoring Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is slated to compose Han Solo's theme for director Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story with John Powell composing the rest.

Speaking to trade paper Variety, Williams hopes to compose the entirety of Star Wars: Episode IX, which is currently in pre-production with JJ Abrams at the helm after Colin Trevorrow's departure. Thus completing an enviable body of work spanning 9 movies. The veteran composer is especially fond of Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her theme from The Force Awakens is a fan favourite.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story undergoing more reshoots



With a 25th May release now only months away, director Ron Howard is reportedly reshooting more of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Reshoots are part and parcel of filmmaking. However, given the second Star Wars spin-off's troubled production, seemingly more so than Rogue One, it adds further intrigue and uncertainty within the fan community.

It's surprising Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn't move Solo to December. Thereby giving Howard more time, and for the film not to clash with Avengers: Infinity War. The latter marking the 10th anniversary of the release of Iron Man and heralding the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

A trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story is expected any day.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Two BAFTA nominations for The Last Jedi



The Star Wars franchise has been synonymous with special effects and sound design since the first movie was released in US theatres in May 1977.

So, it's only fitting director Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi receives two BAFTA nominations in those categories.

Best sound

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best special visual effects

Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Good luck to the fine folks at Lucasfilm.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ewan McGregor on Obi-Wan Star Wars spin-off



Ewan McGregor played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and reprised the role for The Force Awakens.

The demand for an Obi-Wan spin-off movie hasn't abated and fans (myself included) are hoping McGregor gets a chance to play the lead role now that Lucasfilm is owned by Disney.

"There’s a lot of talk, and I’d be happy to play him again, but I don’t know anything more than you do," McGregor told reporters backstage at the Golden Globes, after he won a best actor award for his role in FX's Fargo.

McGregor also gave his reaction to The Last Jedi:

"I saw the new one over Christmas and I thought it was really, really beautiful."

Source: THR

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Tom Hardy's cameo cut from The Last Jedi



If you're wondering where Tom Hardy's First Order Stormtrooper was in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he was cut from director Rian Johnson's divisive sequel. However, Hardy's scene will be included as part of an additional twenty minutes of footage in the upcoming Blu-ray disc release.

Hardy's character possessed a thick southern accent who, after initially appearing threatening, turns out to be an ally of Finn (John Boyega) (via SlashFilm).

“I know who you are…. FN 2187!” Hardy's character reportedly says. “Damn boy, I never took you for officer material.”

Did you spot Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards fighting in the trenches on Crait in The Last Jedi?

You can read my spoiler review for The Last Jedi here. Suffice to say I've already pre-ordered the 4K Blu-ray disc, which is available from Amazon (affiliate link).

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Netflix is rebooting She-Ra in 2018



For the honour of Grayskull: The Princess of Power is back!

During the holiday season, Netflix exclusively streamed the first half of The Toys That Made Us, an unmissable documentary series looking at Star Wars, Barbie, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, and announced a reboot of She-Ra: The Princess of Power for 2018.

She-Ra: The Princess of Power was a Masters of the Universe spin-off in the mid-1980s when He-Man and friends outsold stablemate Barbie to become the world's number one toy. The She-Ra reboot will be made by DreamWorks with Noelle Stevenson, best known for Nimona and Lumberjanes, serving as executive producer.

The new She-Ra series will stream on Netflix later this year.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Micronauts animated series from Hasbro Studios



40 years ago this January I saw Star Wars for the first time and George Lucas' space opera captured my childhood imagination. As such, I devoured everything related. From Kenner action figures to Marvel comics. It was in the pages of Marvel's making of Star Wars magazine that I saw an advertisement for a new toy line distributed by Airfix.

The Micronauts.

The Micronauts was a storied interchangeable toy line from Takara who would go on to create the Transformers. Marvel released a tie-in comic following the adventures of Commander Rann and his battle with the evil Baron Karza. The latter would be a holiday gift in 1978.

Hasbro has announced a new half-hour animated series going into production for 2019. Here's the official synopsis taken from Hasbro's sales guide (via Bleeding Cool):

"When fate brings an unlikely team of alien space explorers to earth in pursuit of the evil Baron Karza, they make a shocking discovery—on our world they are the size of action figures! The Micronauts are small heroes in a big world but the stakes are higher than ever as their miniaturized size presents dangerous obstacles at every turn. Fortunately, they forge an alliance with teenager Cameron Ruck, who will join them in their pursuit of justice. Although the Micronauts are small in stature, their bravery and adventurous spirits remain larger than life."

Whilst no streaming platform has been announced, Hasbro has a longstanding distribution deal with the Discovery network.

The upcoming Micronauts movie, produced by JJ Abrams, will form part of Hasbro's Cinematic Universe (including Transformers, G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and ROM: The Space Knight) in 2020.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The circle is complete in subversive Star Wars



This review contains spoilers for the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga. The Last Jedi is best enjoyed free of such spoilers and expectations. You've had fair warning.

Beware Porgs.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens with a bombastic flourish reprising the space battle from Return of the Jedi and culminates in a last stand echoing the claustrophobia of the battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s what happens between these tentpole battles that elevates director Rian Johnson’s subversive and seemingly divisive sequel to The Force Awakens above standard Hollywood fare, and not only lays the foundation for Episode IX but also the director's own trilogy.



Johnson, like Irvin Kershner before him, approaches the space opera from a deeply psychological perspective and not without wit. The horrors are mostly of the mind. It's a thoughtful examination of hubris. From Supreme Leader Snoke's (Andy Serkis) folly for underestimating his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) debunking of heroic legends and the Jedi order. The latter retrofitting the prequels with gravitas.

Luke Skywalker's heroic return is anything but. His father's lightsaber is tossed away and, as he resists training Rey (Daisy Ridley) in the ways of the Force, a chilling revelation regarding Ben Solo and how he became Kylo Ren is revealed.



Rey and Kylo Ren’s relationship is emotionally charged and there’s a palpable attraction. An attraction that borders on romance. Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley are the charismatic leads of the sequel trilogy and here they take centre stage as Johnson cleans house after JJ Abrams rebooted the franchise. Their lightsaber duet, not duel as many may have expected, in the wake of Supreme Leader Snoke’s demise after he's deceived by Kylo Ren, is a death-dealing ballet of choreographed beauty and brutality.

It was impossible to predict what would happen next as Kylo pleaded with Rey to join him on the dark side whilst Rey held onto the belief that the Master of the Knights of Ren could return to the light. Underscored by a sexual chemistry the prequels sorely lacked.



It’s not without flaws. The Canto Bight casino subplot was apparently a return to the prequels and as such dragged the drama to a crawl. In the midst of an assault on the Resistance fleet, Finn (John Boyega) and newcomer Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) go off for a day at the races and meet Force-sensitive children, which does have a payoff at the end.

General Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) use of the Force, whilst an honourable intention when viewed in the context of Fisher's tragic death last December and one fans have yearned to see since the original trilogy, resulted in Mary Poppins in space.

Captain Phasma, played by the imperious Gwendoline Christie, was given short shrift and an unsatisfying exit a la Boba Fett.

Minor gripes in an otherwise character-driven tour de force (I went there. Sorry not sorry). Johnson dared to take risks with a franchise that's all too easily homogenised and subverted established tropes.

The Last Jedi climaxes with the embattled Resistance, now significantly reduced in number due to Poe Dameron's (Oscar Isaac) hotheadedness, escaping aboard the Millennium Falcon with General Leia and Rey, who has taken the sacred Jedi texts in the hope of rekindling the order.

John Williams' soundtrack is the beating heart of any Star Wars movie. Here, the maestro excels himself with fresh takes on familiar, beloved, themes spanning an expansive body of work and hints at the future of a franchise for which he is intrinsically linked. Without Williams' timeless orchestral score for a New Hope in 1977, George Lucas' space opera would never have been as epic and my childhood adventures would have been all the lesser.

Illuminated by twin binary suns, Luke Skywalker’s death, following his Force projected confrontation with Kylo Ren, is a profoundly moving tribute from the director to the enduring 40-year legacy of Star Wars. The circle is complete and the saga continues...